XCAR: Jaguar: From C-Type to F-Type and everything in-between
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XCAR: Jaguar: From C-Type to F-Type and everything in-between

19:29 /

The F-Type may be the latest sportscar from Jaguar but its heritage stretches way back to the British manufacturer's first forays into racing. XCAR takes a look back at the ancestors of the F-Type and tracks the voyage through motorsport legend and design royalty to the present day.

[MUSIC] [MUSIC] [NOISE] This is the Jaguar F-Type, one of the finest sport cars you can buy to day. It's beautiful, fast and brilliant to drive but that's no surprise given its ancestry. [MUSIC] The F-Type has lineage, ancestry goes all the way back to the 50s to a car that was made to take on the world and win, which it did. [MUSIC] The Jaguar C-Type was a car made for one thing and one thing only, racing. Its job was to lap corner and accelerate faster than anything else. And it turns out it was rather good at it too. The C-Type was born when Jaguar saw how awesome XK120 sports car was on track. The XK120, which got its name from its groundbreaking top speed, was entered into the Le Mans 24 hours in 1950. Well, three of them were. The standard car was so good, but it actually earned Jaguar a 12th place overall. But, Jaguar knew that with a little bit of hardcore tweakery, they could make something much, much better. So t hey set about creating a competition version, the XK120C or the C-Type. [MUSIC] Where the XK120 had a ladder frame, the C-Type had a tubular affair developed by a chap called Bob Knight. So the C was already a much more rigid car so it was more stable in the corners and could go just that little bit faster. Legendary Jaguar designer Malcolm Sayer provided the car's body and it was all aluminium and all good looking. Its interior is sparse. There's no carpets or creature comforts. This car was designed to win races. [MUSIC] The C's engine was a 3.4 liter straight six. And initially a shade over 200 horsepower, later in this ride of course it got a fair bit more than that. However when you keep in mind that this thing weighs a 100 ton, it makes for something of a brisk car. [MUSIC] In 1951 3 C-Types took on Le Mans, two cars retired, including one driven by Sterling Moss, but one fought to the end and took a win for Jaguar. Not bad, considering the car had only been finished for six weeks. 1952 wasn't a great year for the C-Type at Le Mans. All the cars Jaguar entered were retired. However, 1953 saw Jag score a win at the hands of the world's two most hollow men. Mrs. Rolfe and Hamilton. And the story goes that Jaguar sold cars a lot, two numbered 18, Robson Hamilton's car. All over a second number 18 was being warmed up on the track it was black flagged, and the team was disqualified for using two cars with the same number. Whether it was justified or not the thing is Rolfe or Hamilton had driven it, well, that's up in the air. Either way, the team was disqualified and the both team [UNKNOWN] decent 1950s race car driver would do, they went out and got battered. The boys found a bar and stayed there until the next morning at which point Jaguar's owners some near Lyon appeared told them the race was back on, he paid the prime they need to report to track as quickly as possible. As it turned out, tossed a coin to see who'd drive first. Neither of them wanted to of course because they were both substantially worse for wear. And then, between them drove over 2500 miles at an average speed just shy of 106 miles an hour. A truly heroic drive which, of course, [UNKNOWN] a win. I can't imagine they did too much celebrating afterwards though. The car I'm in is apparently completely [INAUDIBLE]. It's not been settled with, it's just been maintained lovingly over its entire life. [MUSIC] As with every racer, the seat's height was steadily upgraded over its life of the car that Rosen Howell drove had more power, a thinner body, and this brakes which were introduced in 1952. Still, the seat's height was available as a customer car after the team's first Le Man win, and as a result, 53 hit the road. [MUSIC] However, time and technology marches on and the C-Type had to be replaced and so it was with this, the D-Type. One of the most beautiful things in the history of anything ever. [MUSIC] This is the first ever Jaguar D-Type chassis number one. It is priceless. Its body designed by Malcolm Sayer, and built using techniques learned from aerospace, is knee-tremblingly beautiful. It's so slippery that in its various forms, the D-Type can manage over 170 miles an hour down the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. Its top speed is apparently closer to 190. [NOISE] Under a 46, a [UNKNOWN] chassis. Pretty advanced for it's day. Also there's the engine from the D-Type, the 3.4 litre XK unit. Later on in the D-Type's life it was upgraded to 3.8 liters. The resulting car was light, slippery, and very fast indeed. The story goes, the legendary test driver, Norman Dewis, the man who had a hand in pretty much every Jag you've ever dribbled over, drove it from the factory in Coventry to the spring test day in Le Mans in 1954. He took it on track and apparently knocked three seconds of the lap record pretty much immediately. It was that good. At its race debut in 1954 the D-Type managed a decent second place. Its 117 mile an hour plus top speed on the straight was much higher than the nearest Ferrari. But fuel starvation issues, meant it couldn't it couldn't take an outright win. The following year with some arrow modifications, it was up against Mercedes SLRs. It did very well against him, but Mercedes driver Pierre Levegh then suffered the most catastrophic accident in motor sport history, crashing his car and killing not only himself but 80 spectators in the process. Mercedes withdrew from the race entirely, allowing Mike Hawthonrn to take a controversial victory for England. [MUSIC] The D-Type did pretty well on the world stage. But, when Jaguar bowed out of Motorsport in 1956 they offered to convert the remaining D-Type into a road going XKSS. So that would have two doors, two steep, and some creature comforts which you don't really get in here, at all. However, there was a fire at the Brown Lane in 1957, which destroyed nine of the only 25 they were ever gonna build and all of the tooling to make any more. The XKSS and the D-Type was well and truly dead, which makes this a pretty special car. Well even more so. And I'll tell you what, it really, really is. The view I've got right now is these three massive humps. And everything is very tucked in towards me. So I've got a red counter, there is no speeder in here, you don't need to know how fast you are going so long as you are going quicker than everyone else. That's all it matters in the D-Type. Speed wise, this thing is bloody quick. [UNKNOWN] to push it too hard because, well, I really don't wanna break it, there not many of these in the world. If you give it a little bit, oh, listen to that. [NOISE] [LAUGH] The brakes are spectacular as well. It's zips all around if you got in the C-Type, and I'm told the faster you go the better they work. Which means when you're are going slowly, well they don't work at all. You can really feel the car moving about beneath you. If you go into a corner a bit hard, you can feel the car struggle for grip and find again. But what really astonishes you is just how fast this thing can be. Scarily so when you consider this is a car made in the early 50s. This could take on most modern stuff and kick it pretty hard in the face. Out of all the cars I've driven today this is easily the most special and the most engaging designs because this is a proper race-car. God knows how it's road legal. This thing's a monster. [MUSIC] By 1960, RaceTech had moved on and various engine size regs made the D-Type not as much of a star as it once was. However, Jaguar had plans for it, in spirit at least. [MUSIC] After pulling out of competition in the mid 50s, Jaguar's racing division was given the task of making a car to replace the aging XK150. The team was told to use detailed construction, you know, to give it an edge. After two prototypes, one of the most celebrated cars of all time came to be the Jaguar E-Type. [MUSIC] The E-Type was launched in 1961, having been unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show of the same year. This particular car, 77 RW, was there, though it wasn't suposed to be. Understandably, the E-Type was in massive demand at the show and Jaguar's sole demo car wasn't quite enough for all the people. So Jaguar put in a call back to its factory in Coventry to get a second car as quickly as possible. The legend that is Norman Dewis was decreed to be the man for the job. And he was thrown in the car and told to get to Geneva as quickly as he possibly could. So he left Coventry, went through London at rush hour, no mean feat, and got to Dover in time for the 10 P.M. ferry. He then drove through the night at a speed at averaging about 70 miles an hour, arriving in Geneva just minutes before the car was needed. He drove like a hero. I digress. The E-Type launched with a 3.8 liter straight 6XK engine with triple SU Carbs. It apparently produced 265 brake horsepower and can do north of 60 in seven seconds. And also, do a 150 miles an hour. A few years later, the engine was bored-out to 4.2 liters which gave it the same power and top speed, but upped the torque and added disc brakes all around. Something that made the C-Type so formidable. [MUSIC] 77 RW is the purest of all of the E-Types. It's nearly a 3.8 liter car. So there are a few things to look out for. For example, the bonnet needs a special tool to open it, something that was changed further down the line. Also, the central console is entirely aluminum. In later 4.2 liters cars, well, that was switched out for leather and the worst material in the world, vinyl. Also, the badge on the back simply says Jaguar. No E-Type, no engine size or anything like that, and I like the subtlety. If you don't know what you're looking at, well, then you don't deserve to know. 1966 saw the introduction of a 2+2 Coupe. It was a bit bigger, looked a bit different, and could come with an auto. The standard Coupe convertible remained the same. Now really the series one E-Types are the most beautiful of them all. With their small mouths covered headlamps and all round general beautifulness and this car, well, it's quite a beast, you can't help but love to drive it. You just feel so special, you feel so good about it. The steering weirdly is nice and light. So just being in it, really it's not the drive, being in it is just something else. It really is. This is a piece of history and I'm holding it. This is the Jaguar E-Type, the one that everyone knows and loves. This is, it's simply staggering. I'm so incredibly privileged to be able to drive one. The beautiful Smiths dials, the steering wheel made of this amazing wood. It looks so delicate but it's, it's just a pleasure to hold. It is everything you'd expect an E-Type to be. This is the most perfect E-Type you'll ever get. It's the representation of what everybody saw back in 1961, for a car that was built then. Man it's perfect, it's been so lovingly restored. I really, really, really wish I was around in 1961. I wanted to experience what it was like to see this for the first time. Cuz it must have been such a huge thing. This beautiful car released by a company that, yes, already makes beautiful cars, but this is just another league of stunning! And it's properly quick and the noise that comes out of it, good Lord! [NOISE] It's just had an engine rebuild and the guys from Jaguar said it's never sounded quite as good and that engine is just glorious. It's the sound of proper motoring, it's the sound of the olden days. Of when cars and sport cars were proper sports cars. [NOISE] Racing was still on the forefront of Jaguars mind though and top brass investigated what a racing E-Type would be like so developed the Low Drag Coupe in 1962. They wanted it to be a car that evoked the D-Type but looked like an a E. Malcolm Sayer was brought in once again to create a light weight aluminum body for the car. It's interior was stripped all the windows but the windscreen were perspect and its 3.8 liter engine was tuned. It was beautiful but it didn't do very well on the circuit. While it looked stunning and had more go on the production car as a racer, it didn't quite cut the mustard for Jaguar. A lightweight E-Type was made from 1963 to 1964. Based on the convertible, it had an aluminium body and engine block, which means it's 3.8 liter straight six pushed out around 300 horsepower. 12 were made and put into competition, and, while it didn't do quite as well as its forebears, well it's found a decent home in the lower levels of Motorsport. The E-Type didn't stop there, though. There's a series one and a half which is similar in appearance to the S1 but had a few changes put in place for an American audience. Safety laws and other such regulations meant the covered headlamps had to go since switch gear changed and the engine was retuned because American safety regs hate nice things. A Series 2 appeared in 1968, it was a touch heavier than before and once again the Americans got a detuned version of the car. It looks a little bit different, had a wider mount and its headlamps weren't covered. The subtle elegance of the Mach 1 was slowly ebbing away. The Series 3 which came out in 1971, well, the standard two-seater Coupe went but it did introduce a V-12 so that was pretty cool. Aesthetically you could tell it was related to the car that was released a decade before but, really wasn't a patch on the original. [MUSIC] When the E-Type went out of production in 1975, the world was left waiting. Yes, the XJS appeared afterwards, as did the HK but they didn't capture the hearts and minds as much as the E-Type. The car, which was referred to by Enzo Ferrari himself as the most beautiful car ever made. It's a good thing then that so long after the E-Type died there's a new type, the S-Type and it's brilliant. It shares so much with its forebearers an advanced construction like the C-Type, beautiful looks like the E-Type, and crazy power like the D-Type. This three liter supercharged V6 S is plenty quick enough, but the five liter supercharged R, well, that's another level. And what it has is something only a Jaguar does. That certain type of style, comfort, and taste. But the important thing about it is that when Jaguar was creating it, it realized that it couldn't only look to the past, it had to mix that with the modern to create a truly worthy successor to the name. [MUSIC]

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